“I’m sorry for what I said and how I acted when my world was falling apart,” my friend confessed to me over the phone the other day.

The last time we had a heart-to-heart, she had just received a blow of bad news that left her feeling shell-shocked, teary-eyed and questioning what her future looked like. A stormcloud caught up to her and really opened up.

We’ve all been hit by the storms that come and go from time-to-time, emptying our kleenex boxes and creating unsightly rivers of mascara across our faces. We can all agree that those days are not pretty.

But once the tears are dry, and our faces scrubbed, we really only have two choices: to continue to let the darkness follow us around, or try our best to find the light.

Thankfully, this particular friend of mine is so darn bright, she practically glows, even on her crummiest days. I knew things would turn around for her quickly, and they did. The day The Storm hit, she knew there was something better out there for her, and that a higher power was playing a hand that was hard for her to see in the moment.

Throughout my life, I’ve weathered my share of storms that have varied in range from a summer rain to a down-and-out tropical storm of massive proportions. I have had people throw me a lifering at just the right moment, and others that have walked beside me, holding my umbrella, shielding me from the storm. I’ve had moments where I’ve been reluctant to ask for or accept help from anyone and I’ve also learned that a burden shared is a burden halved.

But here’s the thing about the storms that pass through our lives — eventually they are followed by the sun. They leave us with a beautiful sense of perspective, allowing us to savor the splendor of the good days, the grittiness to persevere through the bad days, and the ability to recognize when you need to toss a lifering to those around you.

“Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle that you know nothing about.”

It’s a quote that I see floating around on social media often. I don’t know who to attribute it to, but I know it’s something that I never grow tired of reading or being reminded of.

The simplest acts of kindness can go so far — a friendly smile, saying hello, making eye contact and sharing a simple compliment can be such day brighteners, and can be easily shared between two close friends or two complete strangers.

A couple weeks ago, I happened to notice another woman’s shoes and I thought they were adorable and I told her so. She brightened up instantly as her face broke into a huge smile as she thanked me. On another day, I ran into a surly-looking teenager walking down the street — I didn’t think we’d make eye contact, but we did, and I said “hello.” In return, I was treated to the brightest, most beautiful smile that really brightened my day.

As we go about our daily lives, it’s true, we don’t know what storms are raging in the lives of those around us, but we can always make efforts to shine brightly to those we encounter on a daily basis.

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